Sunday, July 1, 2007

Tour of Pain 200 miler Ride Report

The pre-dawn scene at the Steam Plant parking lot was the familiar awkwardness of people preparing to embark on a journey that will inevitably be uncomfortable and potentially regrettable. People in full racing kits with fancy schmancy bikes give me a quick glance and throw me into the "just trying to finish" category in the same way they would write off someone showing up with running shoes and toe straps.
The fact that my bike has one gear is not what inspires this because if I was riding a gleaming $5000 custom single speed road machine with 24 spoke wheels they would recognize that I am a real cyclist and might be intrigued enough to give me a nod of acknowledgment.
My mismatched tires, zip tie chain tensioner, knickers and dog eaten gloves paint a picture that seemed accurate enough as the pack of 25 riders took off down 3rd avenue. With the first downhill I spun out as they all slipped into a 52x12 and motored away in one efficient group. Within ten minutes of the start I was on a country road with just the morning songbirds to keep me company. Gino was running sweep and for lack of better things to do would drive up and harass me. After 15 miles, I made a turn and noticed that my front tire was soft. After inflating my front tire, my speed jumped by 2 mph and I had a laugh about this handicap.
Just before reaching the town of Plaza, a hawk was sitting on a road sign and stayed there until I was right next to him. As I pedaled he flew, no more than 10-15 feet away, side by side. The experience gave me chills. I thanked the hawk and considered this experience to be a good omen,
An hour later I got to the first food stop. There was a rider lingering. This was the first rider I had seen since the start. I had already made the plan to keep my off bike time short so I filled my bottles and kept moving. I was no longer carrying the lanterne rouge. Another hour later I caught up to two more riders. A couple of more just after that. This how my day would go.
I felt great all day but I do not like the hour after hour of high cadence riding. My legs don't like it and my mind really doesn't like it. Give me a long grinding hill instead. I really do find it much more enjoyable. The section between Harrison and CDA is 40 miles with almost all of the climbing for the whole route. I loved it. I felt better in CDA than when I left Harrison.
After CDA it is 40 miles of flat high cadence riding again (damn that low gearing). I finished with an official time of 12:30 with a total riding time of 11:49. Some of the 40 minutes was ordering and eating some french fries and pepsi at the CDA brewery. They made me happier than all the hammer products I had been living off of all day.
Finishing with a 17 mph average on a 39x17 gear after 200 miles is a successful ride for me. The best part about it was when I reached the magic point in the day when I switch over from every day riding to that special feeling. The special feeling is when my body gives into the notion that this is no ordinary training ride. My focus tightens and my minor aches and pains are numbed. At that point I feel like I can go as long as I need to. After 6-7 hours the only thing I have to worry about is keeping the calories coming and staying positive. That special feeling is why I do this.

1 comment:

E-Ninja said...

You Rock!!! 200 miles with only one gear. Call me a groupie but I have been reading your blog and find it motivating. I found your blog through your profile on I am a very very far second to you on mileage for Spokanites. Good luck on your training for the Great Divide race.